Sister Grace reports, ‘It has been a challenging time.’ Tighter Lockdown regulations were imposed on South Africa in June 2021 to reduce the risk of Corvid 19 spreading, however the vulnerable and terminally ill continue to need special care and support.
You can watch President Ramaphosa’s address to the nation on 15th June 221 here:
CHALLENGES encountered in Vaalwater in July 2021:
Our Community has seen an increase in substance and drug addiction amongst the youth. Boys below the age of 20 have been found injecting drugs using the same syringe and needles. They looked violent. (The Police were informed and are currently monitoring the situation)
Increase in community theft has been reported
Some children have never been to school and keep wandering around, begging money.
Essential food supplies prices went up in July due to violent attacks in some parts of South Africa, which resulted in stock shortages.
Some beneficiaries have become dependent on receiving food parcels and do not want to work nor do piece jobs to earn income
Gender based violence occurs in some families due to lack of income and employment
Orphaned children lack parental care and support
Social gatherings and alcohol sales continue without adhering to Corvid 19 protocols
Sister Grace has been able to visit the needy and supply relevant needs.
Some members of the community have been offered short-termemployment within the town and surrounding lodges
School children are back at school and able to access meals from the feeding scheme program
The Social Relief Grant has been extended to help the unemployed to provide for their families
The Department of Social Development continues to provide food parcels to those registered in their system.
The Waterberg Trust aims to fill the gap by helping vulnerable people without papers who Social Services can not help.
Dr Peter Farrant of the Northern Education Trust reports that, ‘Substance abuse is becoming a serious problem. We will have to work on a local solution, but that is easier said than done!’
There are many different ways in which you could help or become involved. If you would like to find out how you can make a donation to The Waterberg Trust, please click here
We will continue to provide food parcels and donated items to those in need, conducting routine assessments, home visits and health education.
Sister Grace works with the local clinic, the South African Police, Social Development, local churches and community leaders to ensure TWT is well informed and the needy can access support.
Food parcels are being distributed in the Waterberg to support 113 needy people. Dr Peter Farrant says, “It is a busy time as temperatures are dropping significantly and winter is imposing herself!”
Sister Grace writes to say: I continued my routine home visits to identify new beneficiaries, checking up on previous ones and teaching basic health education to families and their children. This includes preventive measures to curtail the spread of the common cold, regular hand washing and the importance of wearing masks when in public places. I noticed that many people are ignorant about the need to wear masks when interacting with others.
-Sister Grace in the Waterberg-
Some beneficiaries have found employment while others have relocated to their families. Those with valid documentation were referred to the Social Development for continuity of food parcel support.
I managed to locate the Mozambican family who are related to the mentally disabled person who stands by the roadside near Build- It hardware shop. I referred this matter to the Social Worker and the Police Victim Support unit but it is taking too long to get him transferred to hospital for proper psychological assessment and treatment. A concerted effort is being made to take the man to the local district hospital using the SAPS. The plan is to manage his mental illness and provide shelter.
CHALLENGES: I came across 2 teenage mothers who had family disputes with their parents. They were left without food for days. I managed to conduct family meetings and distributed food parcels to the children. They are continuing to attend school. One girl is in grade 10 at Meetsethehla School, aged 17 years, the other in grade 12 at Lesideng High School, aged 18 years.
–We equip some learners without parents with school uniform–
Some Youths are under the influence of alcohol and substance abuse even at school which leads them to scholastic and learning failure and in the community to theft and gender-based violence.
I found it difficult to locate those needy families living in informal settlements as the addresses are not properly indicated, however those with phone contacts were able to be assisted.
Many foreign residents on chronic medication had poor adherence due to lack of understanding and the language barrier as they could not speak the local language nor English. I involved local caregivers who could translate and explain clearly.
– FAMILY MEMBERS COLLECT FOOD PARCELS ON BEHALF OF THEIR SICK RELATIVES –
PROGRESS: School children have access to meals on daily basis and are attending school.
Social Workers and religious groups help distribute food parcels to the elderly and vulnerable.
Community members have been offered temporary employment within the community and private sector which enables them to supply their families.
To continue reaching out to the vulnerable and provide needed support i.e. food parcels, nutritional supplements, clothing warm blankets and psychosocial counselling.
The need for shelter for the homeless was discussed at an Elders meeting. The plan is to improve our existing shelter and to manage it more effectively. It is important to ensure that it is used for limited periods per person, so that it is not occupied permanently, as is the case at present.
Thirty families in need of support in the Waterberg are being visited to ensure they have enough food and essential supplies. Education on basic hygiene measures is also offered. We are helping two child-headed families, some who are chronically ill, a man badly bitten by a dog, women with small children left with no means of support, an old woman with no ID card and many other needy cases.
120 individuals benefited in November and 94 in December 2020
TWT aims to support those who do not receive any social grant money, who are unemployed with no source of income or support, and are in urgent need of help. Those already on the Social Development system have been handed over to a social worker who has provided 18 families with food parcels donated by Shambala Game Reserve.
Nurse Grace works with Choppies supermarket and volunteers from St John’s Church who help to pack food parcels and deliver them to the elderly and those who can’t reach the supermarket due health issues.
We have been able to help those in crisis: thieves broke into one man’s house, stealing all his groceries whilst he was at a funeral. Another man had a fire at his house and needed clothes for his six children.
If you would like to make a donation to The Waterberg Trust Covid-19 Appeal to assist the needy, please click here.
Progress! School children attending school benefit from the feeding scheme program Those receiving grants are able to buy essential supplies for the family.
Some people are back at work while others now sell produce at the local market Job opportunities for local community members in various sectors are emerging.
SCHOOL UNIFORM was bought for a boy from a dysfunctional family who now has counseling.
Current Challenges: Increase in food prices. Some families arrive late or find it difficult to collect the food. Four children below the age of 10 are being neglected by their mother due alcohol. The issue has been handed over to social development for intervention. 5 families were abusing social grants. The cases were reported to the social worker. Some people are becoming dependent on food parcels and do not want to work.
House break-ins and stealing within the community is worrisome with young boys involved in stealing from their parents. Huge families are unable to feed their dependents. Re-opening of taverns contributes to insecurity and unnecessary expenditure. This results in many drunken people leaving no food for their family.
Poor living conditions in informal settlements with poor sanitation and no water. Youth hang around quiet streets where they smoke, drink alcohol and abuse substances. Cases of gender-based violence resulting in physical injury and assault needed to be reported to the Police station. One men was severely injured and needed to be taken to hospital. Teenage pregnancies remain a challenge.
Routine screening of all learners continues to take place before they enter school premises, when temperatures are checked and a register is signed. We ensure pupils are wearing proper uniform and are not carrying any items that can cause danger to other learners. This gives the school nurse an opportunity to identify learners who hide their pregnancy.
All staff members and any guests are also screened to ensure preventative measures are adhered to. Motivational speakers came from different political parties, the Department of Education, private companies and religious leaders who came to motivate learners during this hard time and to encourage them to study so they can achieve their dreams.
This was the last academic term for all schools in South Africa, with final examinations for grade 12’s. All other grades continued to attend in a phased manner, on weekly rotation, writing tests to enable them progress to the next grade.
Earlier in the year, Grade 12 learners in the Waterberg district attended a 10-day preparatory camp, run by the Department of Education, to prepare them for final examinations.
Schooling continued without interruptions or problems.
Grade 12’s wrote their examinations successfully.
Social media communication with parents from certain schools helps circulate info, using a WhatsApp group and a Facebook page.
Media learning (through TV and radio) helps learners to study whilst at home.
Extra classes were provided for learners to ensure they catch up from where they lacked with teachers willing to help.
Regular visits and monitoring of teachers by the Department of Education has ensured they are maintaining teaching standards.
The assistant agent Josias also helped the grade 12 on how to apply for University bursaries with the required information needed. This gave learners more courage and strength for the upcoming final examination.
CHALLENGES encountered from September to December 2020
Stress and anxiety cases are seen in learners due to pressure of studying for long hours together with a lot of schoolwork and assignments to be completed.
I encountered two cases of teenage girls attempting suicide, one due to family issues and the other in denial to her positive HIV test from the clinic. Counselling sessions were conducted and will continue during the one-week holiday through home visits.
Learners who are abusing drugs are finding it hard to cope with study as they are tired, feel weak and lack concentration.
Some over-age learners are stuck in the junior phase. e.g. A 21-year-old still in grade 8 continues to come to school without progressing. The grandmother who is her carer refuses to allow her to go to a special school. There are several in this category. I plan to address this matter with the School Governing Body (SGB) and School Management Team (SMT) .
Gender-based violence has increased among learners due to petty issues. Those found guilty go to a disciplinary hearing.
Some pregnant learners are hiding pregnancies until a late stage and the policy regarding return to school after delivery is not being followed. I plan to raise this matter with the SGB and SMT.
There is no internet access from the nursing office, therefore, I receive messages late and am unable to communicate with stakeholders on time when invited for meetings, other events or to send reports. The solution has been to provide monthly data.
Challenges due to Covid-19
Some learners remove their masks when in class and some forget them at home.
No physical activities for learners to keep them busy due to the Corvid restrictions e.g. Sports, gardening and athletics
Little ones from Primary Schools are not coping with wearing of masks and need close assistance.
Some learners are not coping with the phasing of school attendance programme, requiring them to stay at home during rotational schedules.
Some learners dropped out of school and are staying at home and some engaged in bad behavioural acts like drinking alcohol and substance abuse and domestic violence.
STATISTICS for September-October when 95 learners were consulted individually:
Medical issues: 25 (Asthmatic, Epilepsy, Dental Abscess, depression, and HIV, Poor Vision and ear infections)
Social Issues: 45 (family problems, lack of support, No food at home and no proper clothes, suicidal attempts, self-stigma, depression
Substance Abuse: 10 (5 from Meetsetshehla and 3 school-dropouts and 2 from Leseding High School)
Counselling: 15 (HIV & Stigma, dangers of substance abuse, teenage pregnancy & how to deal with depression)
Pregnant: 6 (3 Meetsetshehla Secondary School & 3 from Leseding High School)
STATISTICS for November-December when 100 learners were consulted individually:
Medical Issues: 25 (Herpes Zoster, HIV/STI, Dog bite, Asthma, Epilepsy, Visual Impairment)
Social Issues: 35 (Substance abuse, Family issues, no food at home, poor living conditions and lack of parental support)
Counselling: 25 (Depression, HIV Adherence and prevention, Contraception benefits and side effects, ways for substance and alcohol withdrawal Syndrome)
Pregnant: 8 (5 Meetsetshehla and 3 Leseding High Schools)
Minor Issues: 7 (Menstrual issues, Headaches and dizziness)
NOTE: During final term number of learners who consulted were less as they don’t come to school every day when writing exams, they are given time to study at home before writing.
To continue supporting learners who are faced with various challenges
We hope to cooperate with a local pastor to establish a drug rehabilitation centre in Vaalwater, which will benefit many youths who are struggling with addiction.
If you would like to sponsor school children by providing school shoes or washable sanitary pads, please click here
Since Covid-19 shut down the South African tourist industry in March, The Waterberg Trust has partnered with St John’s Church at 24 Rivers to make up food parcels for those needing help.
The project is overseen by NET’s nurse, Grace Ismail, who is sponsored by TWT. She has continued to meet with volunteers from the church, once a month, to purchase food from Chequers supermarket in Vaalwater, where it can be collected by the recipients.
By following up this distribution with home visits, Grace ensures that funds raised by The Waterberg Trust’s Covid-19 Appeal, and kind donations made locally, go to families who are struggling, including a teenage mum with twins and those unemployed due to Lockdown.
All previous beneficiaries have been visited. We found some have been able to return to work, others have received social relief grants, and some have been given retrenchment packages. New beneficiaries have been identified and assessed to confirm their status.
FOOD PARCEL DONATIONS:
Shambala Game Reserve, a local donor, requested a list of beneficiaries that needed food parcels. This list was given to social workers for re-assessment. Beneficiaries with no passport or South African identification book could not be assisted due to lack documentation. From the list of 20 beneficiaries, social workers distributed to 8 families. We assisted the rest.
The Department of Social Development does not provide food parcels for people without identification as they need to register beneficiaries in their system.
Some families abuse social grant money intended for buying food, using it for gambling and alcohol purchases instead.
Child-headed households without parents lack proper care and social support.
Dysfunctional families who neglect their children often provide little or no support.
Loss of employment and lack of income to support a family.
Gender-based violence continues in many households leading to physical injury and damage to property.
School children can be seen on the streets of the township at inappropriate times. Some abuse alcohol and drugs instead of studying at home.
Some beneficiaries returned to work, but did not notify us as they still want to receive food parcels. This is why reassessment of each family needs to be conducted regularly.
Stakeholders have been helpful in supporting the community with food, clothing and shelter for the less privileged. These include the Social Development Services, private organizations (eg Shambala Game Reserve), individuals and religious or faith-based groups within the community. This is encouraging as we can work together.
Schools have reopened and many learners have access to food provided by the school’s feeding scheme programme to ensure pupils get a meal and are able to concentrate in class.
We will continue to distribute food parcels from the supermarket as it is convenient and a central point for beneficiaries.
We will continue liaising with stakeholders to avoid duplication of food parcel distribution.
We will continue to visit homes and families as required.
Thanks to our generous supporters, emergency food parcel distribution in the Waterberg has continued every month. Nurse Grace has conducted an assessment on how this is going, conducting home visits to beneficiaries. These are her photos and finding for the month of July 2020. We will be able to provide an update for activities in August soon.
Some recipients have managed to find a source of income or work and received a UIF payment to enable them to buy groceries for their family. Others still have no source of income or only work on certain days of the week when they are paid according to the hours worked. New beneficiaries have been identified including teenage mothers who depend on the child social grant.
Kind donations were received in the form of clothes, sanitary pads and bedding, for which acknowledgements and thank you messages have been sent. These came from individuals, St John’s church members and The Fold children’s home. Those in need were grateful.
This enabled bedding and kitchen utensils were donated to a homeless, elderly man who has no family and no known identity.
Knitted blankets were also distributed thanks to kind donated wool for the knitting club ladies.
CHALLENGES faced in the township of Leseding:
People spend money on alcohol instead of buying food for their families.
School children roaming the streets – some get involved in crime and physical violence.
Child-headed homes with no parents to guide nor provide.
Patients with poor adherence due to lack of food and family support.
Foreign nationals with no identity nor family.
An expectancy of receiving food parcels regardless of employment.
However, many needy adults and children are benefiting enormously. More food parcels will be purchased when new list of beneficiaries is ready. If you wold like to make a donation to help provide for the poor, please click here.
Schools in South Africa re-opened today, bringing a number of challenges in the light of Covid-19.
Nurse Grace has written to say, “I have been busy preparing schools, to ensure classrooms are cleaned and sanitised, also to plan the screening area for learners.” Masks are obligatory for all – by law.
Ever since schools in South Africa closed in March due to shielding, Sister Grace has been helping pupils with their studies at home. “I am attending to issues and challenges presented by learners. I have been in contact with the social development services to seek help for problems in the community.”
-Home schooling in the Waterberg –
Thanks to over fifty kind donors in the UK, who responded to The Waterberg Trust Covid-19 emergency appeal, Grace has been co-coordinating the procurement and distribution of food parcels to the needy, working with volunteers from St John’s Church ‘Acts of Mercy’ initiative. You can read more about this here.
-Nurse Grace purchasing groceries for food parcel donation-
Grace writes: “The next purchase will second week of June.” If you would like to help with the purchase of food parcels by making a donation, however small, please click here for The Waterberg Trust’s Justgiving site or here to send a cheque.
Winter is on its way, with clear sunny days but temperatures dropping radically at night. “I have been handling clothes to the community which are donated by Horizon and Bulls Eye”. She has also been distributing knitted blankets. “My targets are school children and vulnerable elderly.”
Grace has now returned to work in the schools of the Waterberg, including Meetsetshehla Secondary School, where she is based. If you would like to read more about her work, please click here.
On daily basis, I am able to see 20 learners as well as those who are receiving ongoing counselling and check-ups.
Daily routine work at each school:
Learners with health related issues come to see me for consultation and examination. For emergencies/priorities e.g. those with fever, epileptic seizures, physical injuries, breathing difficulties, and flu-like illnesses are seen immediately. These may require referral to the clinic or private doctor. During the day I am available to see urgent cases which teachers are unable to deal with.
Life style matters such as diabetes, HIV infection, pregnancy, reproductive health issues i.e. menstrual issues, sexual transmitted diseases, mental and emotional issues including depression/psychosis are reported to me on daily basis.
I counsel and follow up on these learners on regular basis as appropriate and some of them are referred to the clinic or private doctor for further management. I also do home visits as needed and as time permits. I keep confidential records for each learner and record my daily activities.
I usually deal with a number of social issues, making referrals to relevant stakeholders. Problems include:
Drug and alcohol use and abuse including tobacco smoking, cannabis, nyaope and glue
Hunger and inadequate food at home
Poor living conditions
Individual rights abuse e.g. no place to study, drunken family members disrupting the house
Physical abuse e.g. beating and causing injury to learners
My daily schedule continues as agreed with management at the beginning of school programme. I report and sign from Meetsetshehla School every morning, then visit other schools.
Monday – Meetsetshehla High School
Tuesday & Wednesday – Leseding High School
Thursday- Mokolo and Mahlasedi Primary Schools
Friday- Meetsetshehla High School until 13.30pm, thereafter I do home visits to identified learners.
STATISTICS – Estimated from my records calculated from daily visits and follow up interventions:
Pregnant – 12 (four at Meetshtshehla, six at Leseding High School and two 15 year olds from Mahlasedi Primary) were counselled on average once a week after 30 weeks gestation approximately 108 visits
Medical Issues – 54 visits (Some learners were seen more than once)
Minor ailments –135 visits
Counselling– 63 sessions
Referrals – 25 (girls for contraceptives from the local government clinic)
Home Visits – 20
Health Education – 72 Learners from Leseding High School and 78 from Mokolo Primary School
Pregnant learners are monitored on regular basis to make sure they are attending antenatal clinic. Those under the influence of alcohol and drug abuse continue with counselling, which includes their parents and caregivers at home.
Liaison with the local government clinic is needed to follow up on those who are on chronic medication and to monitor adherence and progress by checking their files.
School programme services for Meetshetshehla Secondary School were affected by the pending appointment of a new Principal.
Primary schools are still overcrowded and teachers have difficulty ensuring every learner has been assisted and understands their topics.
Interruptions of studies due to unplanned meetings and workshops where learners are returned home without being taught.
The support for school programme has been acknowledged and welcomed by the surrounding schools and the community, which makes work easier.
Mokolo and Mahlasedi primary schools have managed to set up vegetable gardens with the aim of supplementing nutrition to the learners.
The Department of Education within the Waterberg district regularly visit the Schools to ensure teachers are doing their job as per requirement and to monitor those who are absent for no reason.
The community is involved with recycling and aware about the importance of keeping our town clean whilst they earn extra income from selling the recyclable materials. The environmental club held an awareness campaign to encourage every household to take part with green project by planting trees or to set up a vegetable garden
Learners know where to go to access contraceptives and STI screening i.e. the clinic
We had a meeting with the mayor, and different party leaders to discuss about issues of poor academic performance and standards of Meetsetshehla Secondary School. A follow up meeting by the mayor and party leaders was held on 13th January 2020.
The Social Development Services to discuss about ways of issuing food parcels to the vulnerable learners and their families.
The Victim Support unit based at the local police station and discussed ways to clamp down illegal drug dealers who supply illicit substances to youth in our community, issues of gender based violence and how we can prevent illegal weapons to enter on school premises.
Parents meeting held at the community hall to ensure they get involved in assisting their children to take education seriously and to avoid roaming on streets at awkward hours for safety reasons.
To extend school visits to Mothlakamotala High School at least twice per month as it is located 20km away from the feeder schools along the main road by request from parents. Learners who attend at this school come from our surrounding community and would access the services provided by the school nurse.
To ensure more teenage girls access contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancies i.e. those who are sexually active.
To educate primary school adolescents about sexual heath and reproductive issues before they reach high school
Monitoring and making follow ups on all babies delivered, those who are under alcohol & drug abuse to continue home visits involving parents.
Every home must understand the importance of nutrition and how to prevent malnutrition in babies that are left at home by learners i.e. to have proper information about balanced diet meals.
Community awareness education about gender based violence, HIV/TB, Alcohol & drug abuse, reproductive and sexuality health and where to go for help and support. Awareness can be raised during parents meetings and by inviting different stake holders like Social Workers, Party representatives, religious leaders and youth representatives to speak to the school community.
The Green School Program continues. I have been able to set up and maintain a primary school environmental club at Mokolo Primary School. The aim is to expose learners to gardening, wildlife and the importance of conservation. They also received a donation of shade netting, poles, garden tools, compost and seedlings from Environmental Impact Management Services (EIMS). To read more about this, please click here.
Acknowledgement letters were sent to those who continuously donate assorted items to schools i.e. Clothes, garden tools, educational trips, trees and vegetable seedlings: EIMS, THE FOLD CHILDREN’S HOME, HORIZON HORSE BACK, WATERBERG BIOSPHERE RESERVE and SAVE THE WATERBERG RHINO
Mokolo primary school has 2,000 learners. Many are orphans and come to school hungry. The garden supplies additional nutrition to the feeding scheme. Mr. Thipe is the teacher in charge for the vegetable garden and links it to his life skills subject. The newly formed environmental club members help to water and maintain the garden.
The Waterberg Trust has provided a life-saving defibrillator and First Aid equipment for use in emergencies in the Waterberg region of the Limpopo Province.
“The defibrillator is kept with Paul Dorfling, a qualified person who also has a fully equipped First Aid bag and SIG response trailer. The defibrillator has been going to every training exercise so all the First Aiders are familiar with it. “The battery and pads on the machine are about to expire and replacing them will cost about R5 000.”
The other two First Aid bags are kept with First Responders who have the proper training. They are split between the Melkrivier and Vaalwater areas to be available for any situation in the Waterberg.
The most recent use of the First Aid kits was at an accident on the main road to Modimolle. A TWT Trustee explained, “This was a horrid road accident just outside Vaalwater involving a tractor and car at night. The woman driving the car died on impact but her husband was treated on the scene by SIG for the couple of hours that it took before an ambulance got there.” SIG were the only people with First Aid training able to get to the scene. “There is now only one doctor in Vaalwater – Dr van Jaarsveld and she has not been here over the Christmas period.”
The First Responder from SIG said, “I found the bag helpful… The main items needed are gauze, plasters (different sizes and strips), sterri-strips for stitching, wound dressings, bandages, tourniquets and gloves.”
If you would like to make a donations to re-fill these First Aid bags refilled and provide new batteries for the defibrillator, please click here.